The Seed is Planted in my Heart

In my early 20’s, the seed was planted.  The love of Retail was formed and the desire to own my own store was engraved in my heart.  Together Duane and I dreamed. We both loved the beach and we both were ambitious and very hard workers. The “Breeden Team” as we jokingly refer to it, was formed.  I dreamed of Opening up my own store at the beach. He was always supportive of my dreams and said he would follow and support me. Keep in mind, Duane had never left home other than vacations. He had never lived anywhere else but he grew up vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and grew quite fond of it.  Our family vacationed in Corolla, North Carolina.

I received an offer to work as an Asst. manager to the new store opening, Westport which is a division of the Dress Barn, in the nearly opened outlets of Nagshead. I moved to Kill Devil Hills and rented a cute Beach Box on Stilts. I Loved my first little house and loved adulting. Duane continued to work in management at Jefferson National Bank and would visit every weekend.  In 1989 he received an offer to work at Riggs Reality in Corolla and he accepted. We moved in together and began our life which in the same year he refinanced his jeep and surprised me with an engagement ring! I was thrilled and so excited to accept.   My life was falling into place.  Six months later in October 1990, we were married at the Chapel by the Sea with our friends and family present and our reception at the Nagshead waterfront club.

Until Meeting Duane, I had never touched a computer…..Computers were not the “must have” at this time. Internet did not exist. iPhones did not exist. He was a guru of technology and loved tinkering and taking apart computers. My first Computer was a Texas Instrument and then a IBM desktop with Dos. Remember those? I can remember how intimidated I was learning the computers.  I honestly hated Word processing, wordperfect and felt so inadequate. I liked cash registers not computers!   I needed an updated resume to get a job in NC so I could get there and start mapping out my dream. I needed a business plan to get a loan and I could not afford to have someone do it for me.  I was only making about 12K a year and living paycheck to paycheck. On Duane’s visiting weekends, he would look for jobs and we would scope out possible places to open a store.  The excitement in my heart was embedded deep I could see my new store, I could see me waiting on customers.  It was 24/7 desire or obsession.   Corolla was the place for my first store!  I would dream for days and every waking hour about my store, thinking of names, cutting out pictures from magazines and filing them (the old fashion Pinterest). At this point I remember being frustrated at how to find wholesalers. I had to look for them the old fashion way, there was no internet, there was no AmericasMart for Small folks. Buying Markets as they were called, like today’s Americasmart, Dallas Market and New York,  intimidated and I thought, I would never get in. I thought were for buyers like The Limited, and  Lord and Taylor. I  never had the desire to go overseas to find product.Becoming a buyer was my second dream in retail or a district manager if owning my own store was not possible.

Vintage photos below: First computer, Bag phones & Old fashion Pinterest

How would I finance this dream? We were living paycheck to paycheck and we did not know any wealthy investors who would take a chance on us.  Finding a bank who believed in a 20-something year old was a bit daunting in itself. I couldn’t let this damper my dream.  I believed I could and I would!  I marched on, planning my store in my head and in my business plan with the help of my husband who had experience with business plans from his eduction and experience at UVA McIntyre School of Commerce.

One year later.  Sometimes even the brightest well thought out plans don’t work out. We were struggling to pay the bills and live. Our salaries combined were defined as very close to poverty level.  Maybe the timing just wasn’t right. Living on the island, we realized once the tourists were gone, many stores had a hard time surviving. Accepting this realization that we did not have the funds and we were not able to make the dream a reality (yet), we moved  back to our “safe zone”, Staunton Virginia.  We both agreed, maybe it is better to open a store in Staunton surrounded by the support of Family and friends. We were thrilled to buy our very first house in Hillcrest, one in which my brother Todd built. He also was a dreamer and broke the mold of a 9-5 and became an entrepreneur building quality homes in Staunton. It must be in our families blood!

No matter where Duane and I went or what we did, we never made the “Jump” until we had something else lined up.  In the 1990’s looking for a job in Staunton involved the help wanted ads, there was no Indeed or Monster to view a job listings.  I answered an ad for a General Manager with a local Business in Staunton in 1991. I was very excited and felt I would be exceptional at this job and as a twenty-something year old, the money was good.  I felt it was the closest I would get to running a small business without actually owning one.  The Virginia Made Shop had proved to be a successful business and it was time for them to expand.  I was on top of the world….empowered and honored that I was chosen.  I gladly accepted the position as General Manager of The Virginia Made Shop and Duane accepted an offer to help out one of the best Businessmen/entrepreneurs in Staunton, Gordon B.

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The Virginia Made Shop owners, Terry and Ginger L., were in the process of growing their business and wanted someone to open a store in Harrisonburg as well as oversee the Staunton store on Rowe Road.  Long story short, I assisted Terry and Ginger with the opening of their second location and it gave me the added experience as well as a small taste of what it was really like to open from the ground up. They taught me a great deal and I am forever grateful.

Unbeknownst to us, change was coming.  One year later almost to the day, Gordon had an opportunity in Greensboro North Carolina or Washington DC for Duane, An opportunity we could not pass up.  I had never heard of Greensboro, was working my dream job and we had just bought a house. I was never a big city girl, so DC was out of the question for me, we both agreed Greensboro was better suited for us.  I will never forget telling Terry and Ginger.  It was bittersweet. I finally had a job I loved and working for people I admired but my marriage and my vows were rooted in Christ and I knew I had to trust God on this one.

To be continued…..Update the resume and Pack our bags to Greensboro

Advice to my 20 something self

Work hard & have top notch work ethic always

That desire in your heart was put there by God, follow it.

Always steps forward toward your dream even if they are tiny baby steps

Trust Gods timing

Work hard & have top notch work ethic always

Proverbs 16:3 – Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Its ok to JUMP but have a plan. “If you fail to plan…plan to fail”

Until next time, Keep Living your Dream

Lynne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building the LTD 7 Puzzle: Teen to Young Adult

How did I come to love retail and start my own business? It is truly a series of puzzle pieces that have formed this career.  Let’s start with my history. As a baby boomer, I have to dig deep, 39 years ago (ouch, that hurts) I was 16 years old, living in Staunton…..It was time for me to get a job……I just wanted to have “my own money”.  My very first job?  The Visulite Theatre.  I was ‘the popcorn girl”. Mr. Spade, owner/manager of both the Dixie and the Visulite hired me and I also worked with a wonderful soul, Peggy, the ticket lady wearing her red and white striped smock. Anyone remember them?  Peggy was so special and we remained in contact through the years until her death.  I have always prided myself with my work ethic and I honestly think this is where the love of working  grew deeper in my heart. I have not stopped since this first job and still prefer to be busy.

Snapshot video sequence

I kept this job, as well as babysitting, until I left Staunton for College. I was a A/B student but Academics was not my favorite.  I knew I had to go to college and I was blessed that my parents were open to allowing me to go out of state as long as I “just went” to college.  I applied to Old Dominion and UNCW and chose the latter. Why UNCW?  Well for those that know me well or as a Facebook Follower, you know the beach is in my heart, so why not study near the beach?  As a Navy Brat, NC stole my heart years before plus my older sister was in Emerald Isle, NC.  To this day North Carolina is still one of my favorite states.

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 12.37.31 PM ~ Apr-4I lived in the dorms for ½ a semester and then got my own place, got a dog, went to school in the morning and worked in the afternoon. I have always worked hard but don’t get me Wrong, I like my down time.  I had 3 different jobs in college, a summer job……you won’t believe this……are you ready?….I was the drive thru girl serving early morning coffee and biscuits at Hardees in Wrightsville Beach (laughing).  In the summer, I would get up at 4 am!  I guess those early mornings got to me and they did not work with my school schedule during the year. “The Plant Place” in Wilmington worked better with my schedule.  This was my very first taste of a privately owned small business.  Until now, I did not realize the impact this job had on my life.  I loved this job. I learned so much about plants, retail gifts and customer service.  I admired Bobby and Bill.  I loved them and what they created.  I worked for them, in 1982  and now looking back, they were exactly where I am with LTD 7, about 5/6 years into their business. We  did not stay in contact but I was so glad to look them up and see they are still VERY successful. An inspiring retail story for sure.

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Love for fashion started at a young age……..my family always joked with me saying I never wore anything twice to school. My last job in College was corporate retail working for Casual Corner in our mall.  In all of my retail jobs, I moved up very quickly and knew that serving the public came naturally for me. I started in sales and by the end of graduation was promoted to Asst. Manager.  As a young college grad, I listened to the naysayers and was thinking…..I got a four year degree to work retail? Is this where I want to be?  I let them put doubt in my mind with something I truly enjoyed. I was actually a Criminal Justice Major. I did my senior internship in a halfway home for trouble youth.  Although I loved them dearly, I quickly found that my heart could not handle the emotional rips I felt with each child. Taking them back to their abusive environment for weekend visits was heart wrenching.  I wanted to “adopt” them all and provide the love and security I had when I was growing up.

I also applied for other positions in Criminal Justice, with interviews as a juvenile Probation officer and also with the FBI.  None of these panned out.  As a young adult, making my own money was important to me and I was making more as a retail asst. manager than what they were offering me as a college graduate entering the field of Criminal Justice. I knew I did not want more school….so Casual Corner is where I stayed for another year after college until I figured out the right path for me.

I researched Management/Buying programs in bigger cities and in 1986, I received an offer to move to Atlanta with hopes of entering the Management Training Program for Lord and Taylor@Phipps Plaza.  Atlanta was a big place for a small town girl but I jumped at the opportunity. While living in Atlanta, I met up with a highschool friend, Rebecca, we became roommates and and we explored the ups and downs of young adulthood together.

 

Lord and Taylor was fun, I quickly became a department manager in the junior dept. it was perfect fit or so I thought. I quickly found I preferred a smaller store atmosphere rather than the large department store……another piece of the puzzle. Funny as it seems, I still prefer to shop independent shops rather than department stores.

I applied and became an Asst. Manager  at The Limited/Perimeter Mall and learned  a great deal with this company. They also owned other popular stores such as Bath and Body Works and Limited Express.  At that time they were doing everything right…..a top rated company and looking back, the one I learned the most from as far as standards and practices in the retail industry.  Enjoying this position and mentoring under my Manger Sonya, I was soon promoted and transferred to Gainesville GA as a Manager of my own Limited Store.  Scared me to death to be the Manager at the ripe age of 23-24 but I was ready and loved it!  As a young adult in corporate retail, getting your own store was an honor and I had to “fake it until I make it” with this one.  I knew customer service like the back of my hand but hiring and firing, payroll, figures and reports at that young age were a bit daunting to me. Remember, I did not study business or finance in college. I grew to love it but I could not have done it without my Assistant manager, Donna, who soon became a lifelong friend.

After more downs than ups in GA, many lessons and more experience to add to my resume, I decided I needed to return to my roots in Virginia. I ended up in Charlottesville back at Casual Corner, Fashion Square Mall. I still was not where I wanted to be emotionally and personally. I was impatient and I was like any other girl in her mid twenties, My friends were all getting married and I was still in a female dominated industry….how would I ever meet the man of my dreams? I know you are laughing but I am keeping it real.  Majority of girls, at that age are searching for Love, if they have not already found it.  I was still searching… I started asking myself questions,  Is retail what I really want to do with my life?  Is Retail a “real” career? Maybe I should try something like Banking! Yep that’s it……I will enter the banking industry!  I am sure my parents were scratching their heads at my job hopping but they let me be, guided me and let me stand tall or let me fall when needed.  In 1988, I was hired by Jefferson National Bank, I started as a Teller and quickly moved into the Marketing Dept…………  where I was asked to fill-in for a co-worker and teach the week long Teller school.  Enter Duane Breeden into my life….. the handsome, born and bred, Charlottesville Management Trainee that was assigned to my class. I am not saying change your career to find a man, this is just the path my life led me on.

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It was frowned upon for Employees to date, so you guessed it, I went back to Casual Corner……..and continued dating Duane.  Its now a family joke that I taught him to count money.  If I had only known how intelligent he was as a UVA Business School graduate in Finance! I would have been very intimidated! But it all worked out and we are now 28 years into our marriage.

At that point in my christian life, I knew about God but I did not “know” God. Although, I asked for him to come into my life as a teen, I strayed and only called upon him when discouraged or in trouble…But he stayed with me and guided me. I listened to that tiny voice within, followed my heart and yes, as crazy as it seems, I did find the man of my dreams but…..there is one change in our family…….. Now Duane controls the money. 😉

As you can see, in my early days of working, I explored, took chances and followed my gut. Its very much like dating….You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince.  I remained open and allowed myself to learn from each and every job keeping a mental log of what worked and what did not.

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Advice for my younger self

Don’t be afraid to try new things, be open and allow yourself to grow
Follow your heart, be you and have confidence in your decisions
Each rise and fall is a puzzle piece in your life…. keep building your puzzle
Money is not everything and does not always bring happiness
Pray, listen & let God guide you.
Relax, have fun & be patient, everything is going to be ok.
You are capable & you are worthy
Retail is a career

Stay tuned, for the next ten years, on our next blog.

Living the dream,

Lynne 🙂